Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition that occurs when an individual experiences difficulty breathing while asleep. It’s very hard to self-diagnose and you need to take a sleep apnea test to determine whether or not you’re suffering from this disorder.
What is sleep apnea?
This sleep disorder is usually caused by some type of obstruction and can result in periods of breathlessness lasting for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. These breathless episodes can occur many times during an hour and often makes you feel extremely tired when you wake up.
What are the symptoms?
this disorder causes low levels of oxygen in the blood while sleeping but is seldom noticed by those who experience it. Others witnessing someone suffering from apnea during sleep will often notice snoring followed by silence (when breathing stops) and then a resumption of breathing or snoring.
What’s a sleep apnea test?
To determine if you really suffer from this condition, a healthcare professional will have you perform a sleep apnea test. Also called a polysomnogram (or sleep study), it involves going to a sleep clinic and spending the night under the observation of sleep specialists.
What’s the procedure?
Prior to falling asleep, a technician will attach sensors to yourself to monitor sounds, breathing, brain activity, and oxygen levels. This is actually a fairly lengthy process and takes about an hour to complete.
Once hooked up to all the sensors, you will be encouraged to follow your normal evening/sleep routine as you begin the test. While it might seem like sleep will be impossible with sensors and cords all over your head and body, everybody undergoing a sleep apnea test eventually falls asleep.
Once asleep, you have nothing further to do other than sleep as normal. The observations of the technicians (done via cameras placed in the room) and sensor readings are used to determine whether or not you experience periods of apnea during sleep and to what degree.
How to interpret the results?
The actual results of a sleep study are called either an Apnea Hypopnea Index(AHI) or Respiratory Distress Index (RDI). Depending on where the study is done, a RDI (or AHI) of 10 will be considered as evidence of apnea during sleep.
How much does it cost?
Sleep clinics where these studies take place are most often found at hospitals and should be covered by your health insurance. Without insurance, a sleep apnea test can cost a lot of money (anywhere from $500 to over $2,500). While this is quite expensive, the potential negative health risks make it very important to consider.
Are there any tests you can take at home?
There are also less extensive tests that you can take at home. These tests will provide less information, but if you only suffer from mild to moderate apnea during sleep, they might be more convenient and will give enough information to your doctor to diagnose your condition.
If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, getting a sleep apnea test is a no-brainer. Even without insurance, it is important to get potential sleep apnea checked if there is any possible way to afford it because this condition can lead to more serious health troubles.